It was the year 1054, and the differences between the eastern half of the Church and the western half of the Church finally boiled over, resulting in what we now call The Great Schism. The western part of the Church became centered in Rome and the Bishop of Rome established himself as undisputed Pontiff of what we now call the Roman Catholic Church. The eastern part of the church continued on with business as usual and refused to recognize what they considered to be a heretical power grab. But, even after the formal breaking of ties, the western Church was still willing to launch The First Crusade in 1096 AD in order to aid the eastern Church against Muslim aggression.
A few centuries later, the western Church experienced its own schism, when Martin Luther kicked off the Protestant Reformation in 1517. The irony being that the Protestants separated from the Catholic Church for a lot of the same things the eastern Church objected to (the primary issue being the claims of the authority vested in the Pope). In the time since then, Protestants have become experts at schisms. Protestants schism over doctrine, the color of the drapes, the type of carpet, or if you got the biscuits at the potluck from Kentucky Fried Chicken or Bojangles. A brief overview of the Infogalactic entry on Protestantism will give you an overview of the Protestant love for schisming.
In fact, at this point, the Church is so fragmented that we spend more time fighting with ourselves than we do doing the things that we were commanded to do. Islam is on the move for the first time in 3 centuries, and the American Church is too scared of losing their tax exempt status to do anything about issues that seem to be a no brainer. For example, the it has taken 40 years for the United Methodist Church to start righting the ship on abortion. And that’s before you even talk about the rumbling going on in the Southern Baptist Convention, which has been crippled from doing anything useful for fear of alienating churches that are unwilling to take a tough stand.
The time has come for the Men of the West to stand up and start retaking our culture and rebuilding our civilization. The first step in doing that is UnSchisming the Church. And the first step in UnSchisming the Church is to agree that the Body of Christ needs to be whole again. The 3 segments of the Church are going to have to agree to that before we can make any movement on resolving this issue. The Orthodox and Catholics have, to a certain extent. However, there has been no movement on Protestants having a formal relationship with either the Catholics or the Orthodox. On this point, I think it’s probably easier for the Protestants and the Orthodox to find common ground and start working together than for Protestants and Catholics because of the issue of the Pope. This will undoubtedly be a thorny issue in trying to untangle centuries of very real, very significant differences that have arisen between the different sects.
The path forward, once we have agreed that this is a thing that needs doing, is to revisit the councils and canons of the Church from before the Schism, get the leadership of the 3 branches of Christianity together, and find common ground that can be built upon. But this isn’t going to be easy, and because of that, it’s something that is going to have to have ordinary Christians involved. If you think this is a worthwhile goal, be sure to share this column with your pastor, priest, minister, bishop, elder, or whatever title your church uses for leadership. Tweet it, Gab it, or Facebook it. Our mission is being undermined by our disunity and we need to fix it.